Website Monitoring Tool

VA Form 21-526EZ 
Use For...

Disability Service Connection
Secondary Service Connection
Increased

Disability Compensation
Temporary Total Disability Rating
 Individual Unemployability
Compensation under  38 U.S.C. 1151
 Special Monthly Compensation
Special Home Adaptation 
Automobile Allowance
/Adaptive Equipment
Benefits Based on a Veteran's
Seriously Disabled Child

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VAWatchdog Dot Org

You've Arrived at the VAWatchdog Dot Org!  

Welcome Aboard!

We've been keeping veterans informed of news and events important to them since 2005.
You'll find all you need to file your claim and referrals to professionals who can help you when things don't go well. 

What you won't find here is unending chat or opinions from strangers who like to think of themselves as experts.

Our goal is to ensure that you are awarded the benefits you earned with your service to our country.

We're here to help you take charge of your benefits, and that is all.

PAPER Evidence, Records

and Claims All Go Here


​V A Claims Intake Center
PO BOX 4444
JANESVILLE, WI

53547- 4444


Toll Free Fax:

844-531-7818​

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Read Me Please...

The Users Guide to the

VAWatchdog Dot Org

Wounded Warrior Project Veterans Benefits
.

How To Increase An Existing Rating %

Gather your evidence and records to support the increase. ​

If there are civilian medical records, you have to gather those for yourself. 

Do not rely on VA to obtain your civilian records.

Jim's Mailbag
Jim Strickland is a Vietnam era Army veteran and nationally recognized expert on 

VA disability benefits and a member of the Stateside Legal Website Advisory Board. ​

Jim's Mailbag, is a regular column where veterans, servicemembers, and family members can  ask Jim their questions about VA and Social Security disability benefits.  You can browse all of these

Q&As here, and search the Jim's Mailbag archives for helpful answers.
Email Jim your question for a quick and confidential reply.

Join the Army, they said.

You'll learn new skills and see the world.

Hey Jim...can you help?
​I'm a veteran from Desert Storm. I live in an assisted living facility in FL. I've been living here since 2011. Since I moved in I've been harassed, abused, and robbed by my neighbors in and out of the apartment.
​My husband served in the Army and has passed away. Can I, his wife, go to the Army base and have my will made out? I didn't know if I could since he is longer living.
​I'm messaging you on behalf of my husband. Last night I had to bail my husband out of jail, he had a warrant out for his arrest. Because, a little over a month ago he had a PTSD attack, with suicidal thoughts. (Combat Veteran, in Syria, less than two years ago)
​My ex husband get VA benefits he gets over $3,400 and now brags he gets even more. He is supposed to pay $400 once a month and he can't even do that and taunts me how he can't be touched or his VA benefits. 
I am 100 percent Disabled unable to work.  While waiting for this decision, I was on Disability SSI  which rolled over to social security after i turned 65.  Am collecting both now.  Do I have to give up one or the other ?
​My son's mother applied for a state benefit assistance in Michigan and they asked if she was living with me and she said no and now they're coming after me will making me go to court to decide how much child support I should pay for her. 
​Shortly after I got a medical discharge, I got pregnant. The VA stated they would pay all expense plus delivery and 6 weeks after delivery, however they never paid anything. She was born early and thankfully only stayed in hospital 11 days. However it raked up $76,000 in debt.

Determine exactly what your current ratings are before you proceed.
Dig out those original award letters so that you know exactly what sort of benefits and ratings you 
have. Don't just guess at it, get the facts. You may need to check your records at the eBenefits site.

Look at the ratings table for your existing benefit.
The
Schedule For Rating Disabilities is your guide to what you may be eligible for. You may
learn that your current rating is already at the maximum or that you're current 
rating is seriously deficient. You have to research it to know.

And you call yourself a veteran?

​Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart[1] VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 – 5 June 1963) was a British Army officer born of Belgian and Irish parents. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" in various Commonwealth countries.[2] He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War. He was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp; and tore off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in the First World War, he wrote, "Frankly I had enjoyed the war."

​Do It Yourself
You Do NOT Need A Representative
We are a DIY site!
If you have an existing rating and you believe that the rated condition is worse

than it was when it was rated or if you believe that your rating is just too low, you

must formally file a claim to increase the rating.

Talking with your doctor or other veterans won't get the process started.
You have to submit the forms. No form, no benefit!

​Independent Medical Opinions
IMOs - IMEs - Nexus Letters - DBQs
Statements In Support Of Claims - Record Reviews​


In most cases you must prove the claim that you make. If you claim that you injured your knee in basic training but your medical records lack substantive support, you'll likely need the opinion of an expert who is experienced in disability medicine. The opinion may come in many forms, the IMO is the most common today. Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are required and if you don't offer your DBQ completed by an expert of your choosing, VA will have one completed for you by their examiner at a C & P exam. You may guess which will be more favorable to you.

Statements In Support Of Claims or Buddy Letters have little value unless they are very specific by a credible witness. A credible witness might be a battle buddy who was with you when you took mortar fire and you witnessed violent death up close and personal. Your mom, your spouse, your pastor and high school teachers who support you because you've always been a good citizen aren't credible witnesses. What's your spouse going to say? VA knows all about bias, even if it isn't outright. 

You need an expert. If you submit a favorable IMO with your claim, you are much more likely to prevail with little or no fuss and no appeal!    Go for it!

You should consider an IME or an IMO
An Independent Medical Examination or an Independent Medical Opinion

will often make the difference when the details of your claim aren't clear.
The physician who conducts such an exam is a neutral

observer and an expert in disability medicine.


Click here to learn more about these exams.

It's time to file the claim


Be as precise as you can to describe just what it is that you want. 

Provide supporting evidence.


Congratulations! You're done.​​

Proceed With Caution!!!

Any time we ask VA to open our file to make any adjustment, we open ourselves up to a

complete review of all ratings.  Many veterans get an unpleasant surprise when they discover

that their request for an increase leads to a proposal to decrease a rating. You have an absolute

right to be rated appropriately for each disabling condition you may have incurred during your

honorable military service. If you feel that your rating is not correct for your condition, by all

means seek an increase. Before you do...be sure that you can't lose. Check your current

condition's symptoms against the standards you find in The Schedule For Rating Disabilities.

Match your physical or mental health status to the ones you find there.

If you are confident that you can prove your entitlement to a higher rating, go for it.

If you aren't sure, sometimes sleeping dogs are best left to just lie there.

There is no substitute

for the veteran claimant who is involved and informed. Once you've learned how the system really works, filing correctly...getting it right the first time...isn't that hard to do. Educate yourself  by reading what the experts have to say.

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